While lacking across a large part of the United States on Christmas Day, arctic air is set to make a comeback during the final days of 2014.
Back-to-back waves of arctic air will descend across the western and central United States during the first half of next week, even plunging down to the Mexican border.
“The core of cold will then press into the East around New Year’s night or day, following the passage of a storm system,” stated AccuWeather.com Long-Range Expert Paul Pastelok.
AccuWeather.com meteorologists will be closely monitoring this storm and another that will precede it around Monday and Tuesday for the possibility of a swath of disruptive snow to be dropped across the Northeast.
The storm set to reach the Northeast around New Year’s Eve would first spread snow through the Rockies with some snow potentially streaking across the south-central U.S.
The cold shot closing out 2014 and ringing in 2015 is shaping up to yield the lowest temperatures in weeks for many communities.
Highs in the single digits and even subzero will return to the northern Rockies and northern Plains early next week for the first time since the start of December. This includes Billings, Montana; Fargo, North Dakota; and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Farther to the west in California’s Central Valley, “There is certainly the risk of frost to freezing temperatures in the growing areas early next week,” stated AccuWeather.com Western Weather Expert Ken Clark.
While frost may form in the normally colder spots Thursday and Friday nights of this week, the blast next week “could be an even colder air mass that will bring a freeze,” Clark added.
Next Tuesday or Wednesday could be the coldest so far this winter season in the Desert Southwest, such as in Las Vegas, Nevada, or El Paso, New Mexico. Santa Ana winds may also whip through Southern California at this time.
While colder air will filter in to start next week, the core of the cold will lead to subfreezing highs throughout the Northeast on New Year’s Day.
The impending cold wave is far from unusual as a new year begins, but may have an extra sting for residents given the lack of persistent bitter cold this December.
Roughly 20 to 30 degrees will separate the highs on Christmas Day and the chill expected on New Year’s Day in the Northeast.
Temperatures across the western two-thirds of the United States are averaging well above normal so far this December and are running at or above normal in most of the East, mainly due to relatively mild overnight lows on numerous occasions.
Temperatures from Normal Dec. 1 to Dec. 23
|City||Departure from Normal (Degrees F)|
|Salt Lake City, Utah||+11.1|
|Albuquerque, New Mexico||+6.5|
“For the West and Plains, temperatures will not recover well after the initial shot of arctic air,” stated Pastelok.
“The cold will ease but additional cold shots will follow into January, trimming back the warm temperature departures from December.”
Across the East, Pastelok anticipates the New Year’s Day cold shot to stick around for a few days with an eventual southern push to the storm track.
“If the cold keeps coming in, it will work to keep the storm track farther south into the middle of January. That would open the door for more snow and ice opportunities from the Tennessee Valley to the central Appalachians to the interior Northeast.”
Pastelok is concerned for more ice events to unfold than last winter.